The History of Cartography in a Brief Poem

I seem to be on a poetry jag right now. This will change, as soon as someone gives me permission to reproduce an image. But, for now, here’s a poem I encountered yesterday that neatly summarizes the idealization of cartography and its history:

Der Kartographie.
Gewiß, ihr geben auch die Jahre
Die rechte Richtung ihrer Kraft.
Noch ist bei tiefer Neigung für das Wahre
Der Irrtum ihre Leidenschaft.

Frei nach Goethe.

Which translates, as best as I can do,

Certainly, too, the years give her
The right direction of her strength.
Still, with deep affection for truth,
Error is her passion.

Based on Goethe

This is the epigraph to an essay by Karl Peucker (1859–1940), scientific director (1891–1922) of the cartographic department of the Artaria publishing house in Vienna: “Drei Thesen zum Ausbau der theoretischen Kartographie,” Geographische Zeitschrift 8, nos. 2–4 (1902): 65–80, 145–60, 204–22.

Peucker, to my mind, captures cartography’s obsession with eliminating error and therefore the inherently progressive nature of its development over time.